Causes of Eczema In Adult – Natural Treatment of Eczema

Eczema - Causes of eczema in adult
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Written By:

Alisson Diab. M.Sc Genetics
Diploma in Nutrition.

Eczema can be very uncomfortable and debilitating, which raises the question, what are the causes of eczema in adults, and children for that matter.

The skin is our body’s largest organ. Once it presents with an ailment
such as, eczema (or acne, psoriasis, hives etc), it is a warning sign
and we need to identify and treat the causative agent. Often the skin
condition is something superficial affecting the skin surface, but it
can also manifest an underlying disease or imbalance within the body,
which is not obvious to observe.

Eczema(also referred to as “dermatitis”) is a skin condition characterised by an itchy, red rash
which is often found in the nook of your arms & legs and in the creases of your skin. Eczema comes from the word “ekzein”, which is Greek for “boil out” (1). It is known to affect between 5% and
20% of people worldwide. There is no cure, but many treatments can help improve the skin’s condition. Treatment is of major importance due to the fact that it can become infected as well as the
immense discomfort and self consciousness associated with it.

Types and causes

There are several types of dermatitis depending on where the eczema occurs on the body and how it presents itself (2). Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. It often affects people who suffer from asthma or hay fever, have a family history of eczema or have defects in the skin barrier (allowing moisture out and germs in). The information in this article is meant to highlight natural remedies for the treatment of all types of eczema.

It is important to first pin-point the trigger that is causing the eczema in order to treat it appropriately.

  • Allergies:
    About 30-40% of all people who have eczema have an allergic type. Culprits can be skincare products, dust, pollen, plants or animals
  • Irritants:
    Rough fabrics, cigarette smoke and heat or cold can be responsible for an eczema reaction
  • Food sensitive eczema:
    The best way to elucidate the trigger is to perform an elimination diet as described below
  • Bacterial or yeast infection on the skin can cause eczema
  • Gene mutation:
    It is speculated that a mutation in a gene responsible for the production of the filaggrin protein, which the body needs to make the skin’s outer layer, leads to eczema (3)
  • Stress plays a huge role in atopic dermatitis
  • There is a strong association between a toxic state of the bowel and many types of skin manifestations and eczematous conditions (4). Eczema may be provoked by a specific neuropeptide produced in the gut, Substance P, which is typically brought about by severely altered gut flora (5). This leads to proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut, low stomach acid poor digestion and nutritional deficiencies. All the aforementioned can impair the skin’s health
  • It is speculated that increased hygiene prevents the early exposure of germs to children which is necessary to help train their immune systems. This, as well as pollution, play a role
    in increasing eczema prevalence


While no cure exists, over-the-counter creams and medications are available to help reduce inflammation. Typical treatment of severe (acute) eczema include the use of steroid creams. Creams such as pimecrolimus and tacrolimu are known to inhibit T-cell activation thus preventing the release of inflammatory cytokines (6). This sort of medication is necessary in severe cases, but long term use is not
ideal. Control and treatment of eczema can be maintained using a natural approach as discussed below. There is also homeopathic treatment of eczema available, that is giving good results.


Some foods can trigger the release of T-cells that cause inflammation. The easiest way to determine the food culprit is to carry out an elimination diet. This would include the exclusion of all possible
triggers and then reintroducing them with 4-6 week intervals between each one.

Foods that can trigger eczema include (7):

  • citrus fruits
  • large prunes
  • currants
  • strawberries
  • plums
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • gluten
  • soy
  • certain spices (vanilla, cloves and cinnamon)
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines)
  • wheat
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • carbonated drinks
  • processed foods
  • caffeine

A type of eczema called dyshidrotic eczema (blisters on fingers, toes, palms, and feet) can be achieved by avoiding foods containing nickel such as beans, black tea, canned meats, chocolate, lentils, nuts,
peas, seeds, shellfish, soybeans (7).

If a person does eliminate a large food group, it is important to replenish one’s diet with appropriate vitamins and minerals or alternative nutrient sources. For example wheat can be replaced with
brown rice or millet and cow’s milk with coconut milk.

Anti-inflammatory and immune boosting foods known to assist with the healing of eczema
include the following:

  • Fish– a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
  • Foods high in probiotics such as kefir, miso soup, kimchi or tempeh
  • Foods high in flavanoids (such as dark berries)
  • Bromelain (pineapples) and other colourful fruits and vegetables
    such as apples, broccoli, cherries or spinach
  • Eczema is an acid-forming condition (caused by excess inflammation)
    therefore it is recommended to include alkalizing foods such
    as olive oil, mangoes, almonds, ginger, cabbage, chestnuts, berries
    and legumes
  • Bone broth is a much spoken about food at the moment. It is a mineral-rich infusion
    made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and
    spices. It is known to boost the immune system and the high collagen
    content helps to support skin health (8)
  • Herbal teas: Oolong tea (partially fermented Camellia sinensis)
    is packed with phenol and has been shown to soothe and improve
    eczema in as little as a week (9). Chamomile, red clover and Burdock
    root herb tea have also shown positive results. Chamomile can also
    assist with stress relief

For some, the idea of an elimination diet may be overwhelming, and perhaps following a carefully formulated day-to-day & meal-to-meal plan is a good option. Jason Vale has compiled a step-by-step skin healing diet program that helps one include all the necessary foods as well as exclude negative food triggers (10).

For further information regarding natural topical and supplement treatment, see article titled ‘TOPICAL AND SUPPLEMENT TREATMENT OF ECZEMA’.




  1. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Oct-Dec; 1(4): 268–270. A case discussion on eczema. Pallavi Hegde, D T Hemanth, S V Emmi, M P Shilpa, Pradeep S Shindhe, and Y M Santosh
  4. › Juicy Info
  10. Deep Download.pdf content.

Thank you for reading, also read the follow up article on Natural Treatments to find out more about available natural remedies to alleviate eczema.

Please leave a comment below, if you found this article interesting, and if you have any questions, we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About Mariette Chapman 11 Articles
I am a Entrepreneur, who loves taking on new challenges, and create something meaningful for myself, and through that also be of benefit to other people. I have worked in many varied fields, but have always felt myself drawn to the natural world and nature, and living life as naturally as possible. I am building my own websites, where I hope to help and inform people to make better choices when it comes to their health and lifestyle.


  1. Hi mariette,

    Such a great post! I love the pic of the fruit bowl! I love acai bowls and this looks delicious!

    My son has eczema and it makes it worse when he swims in the ocean the poor kid. He loves the ocean. When I say kid he is 28 now haha! I am going to send him this link and he may well find some relief.

    Thanks again for a great informative post! 🙂


  2. I know eczema can be a very delicate thing. I have heard about so many experiences about it, and I think this post is very useful and everyone should read it. Thank you so much for this informative article. I will keep these things in mind…you never know.

  3. I am a sufferer of psoriasis, although thankfully I haven’t had a flare up in the last year or so. I take, Allison, that a food based management plan would be suitable for the treatment of psoriasis too? It’s amazing how many food groups can be beneficial to the management of dermatitis. If in the past my psoriasis was caused by stress, I’m pretty sure, I don’t know what’s caused the flare ups of the last few years. It could be stress equally, but I believe, as I’m getting older, it may be due to cells modifications as much as some other external factors, such as pollution and dust. I shall definitely come back in the hope to find out more as to how to pinpoint causes of dermatitis more effectively. For now, thank you 🙂

  4. Hi Mariette,
    Great article, very informative! My daughter got eczema quite frequently, not sure if it’s related to the skincare products she uses, and she don’t like to eat fish. I will forward your site to her to figure out the cause. Thank you.

  5. I love this article because you have detailed all the information here.
    I do not know anyone with eczema but this is good for my so I can learn to keep Eczema at bay forever for myself and my family

  6. Hi Mariette, i have seldom seen such a clear expose on the topic.
    Many recommend food supplements like wysteria to counter infections.
    What would be your opinion on this one.

    Thank you

    • Hi Fleeky, I could not find anything about wysteria being good for infections. It is actually quite a poisonous plant that can cause allergic reaction. There are however quite a collection of natural treatments available. I am busy doing an article on that, so check back in a day or two to read what is available. You can also check out the page on the menu, Natural Products, as there are a few for Eczema treatment.

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